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  • Erin Egnatz

Grandview Cemetery and the Johnstown Flood: Pennsylvania

Dating back to 1885, the Grandview Cemetery, in Johnstown Pennsylvania, had a pretty peaceful beginning. That all changed in 1889 when disaster struck Johnstown, an up and coming steel town.


Known as the Great Flood, the Johnstown Flood claimed the lives of at least 2,200 people in the area when the South Fork Dam failed. After years of patching the leaks that had sprung with, of all things straw and mud, the dam located about 14 miles away from Johnstown caved under the pressure placed upon it from Lake Conemaugh after extraordinarily heavy rainfall.


Around 3PM on the afternoon of May 31, 1889, the dam broke spilling the entire contents of Lake Conemaugh in just over an hour. As the flood waters raced towards Johnstown, it took out everything in its path from homes, buildings, trees and so on. When the waters came upon an 8 story high railroad bridge, it took that down too. When it finally came upon Johnstown, the water consisted of rail cars, barbed wire and everything else it had pickup along the way. Some residents were crushed while others drowned as the water swept through the town. A fire broke out somewhere along the way killing roughly 80 people.


After the flood, the area looked like a war zone. Destruction was all that could be seen for miles. The death toll was high, with 2,208 people dying. In some cases entire families were lost. It took years to discover all of the bodies, some of which were found as far away as Ohio. A large number of those who died were buried in Grandview Cemetery including 770 placed in a section for the unknown.


The Hauntings:


In addition to those lost in the flood, there is more than 60,000 buried at this location. Grandview Cemetery has quite a few hauntings within its grounds. With so many dying suddenly, there is a strong sense of confusion, sadness and loss. Apparitions have been seen, cold spots have been felt and disembodied voices can be heard. There is one voice in particular that is heard more often than others, that of a young girl. She can be heard reaching out for help to visitors of the cemetery. Orbs also show up quite often in photos taken here.


History and hauntings collide at Grandview Cemetery in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. If you're ever in town, be sure to stop by and check it our along with the Johnstown Flood Museum.


By Sheila Felps


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